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Newsletter

Spring 2014

ST. FRANCIS

OF THE WOODS

Spiritual Renewal Center

Chapel Services Services in the St. Francis Chapel are conducted according to Orthodox Christian tradition. Daily Prayer is offered every weekday. When a priest is present the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom is the principle service on Sunday morning. In the absence of a priest a service of morning prayer will be held.

New Beginnings Grace and Peace! My name is Brad Wilson, and I am incredibly honored and humbled to serve as the new Director at St. Francis of the Woods. I was born and raised in Oklahoma, and I’ve lived in towns all across this beautiful state. For the last eight years, I have called Norman home. I am a 2009 graduate of the University of Oklahoma, College of Law. I first visited these grounds in 2012, after a pilgrimage in Egypt. It is not always easy to return to “normal” life after a profound religious experience. St. Francis of the Woods provided a place of peace and serenity in the hectic and adversarial world of the

Monday - Friday

legal profession.

8:00, 12:00, 8:00

I have always been a deeply religious person. I was raised a

Sunday

Baptist. My Papaw is a “Jimmy Carter Baptist” and served as a

Divine Liturgy/Morning Prayer @ 10:30 a.m.

for the Oklahoma City Police Department. He contributed a lot

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Church Fathers “For even creation reveals Him who formed it, and the very work made suggests Him who made it, and the world manifests Him who ordered it. The Universal Church, moreover, through the whole world, has received this tradition from the Apostles.” - St. Irenaeus (189 A.D.)

chaplain in Korea and Vietnam and as the first police chaplain to my theology and spiritual development. When I was 16, I served as a Page for the U.S. House of Representatives. In D.C., I was introduced to the Orthodox Church. I was entranced by how different the service was from my Baptist upbringing, and

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Newsletter

Spring 2014

drawn to the iconography and the heavenly nature of the Divine Liturgy. This began a long and unrelenting quest for knowledge about the worship and history of the universal Church. Through much research into the various sects and denominations of the Church, I developed an interest in the things that unite and divide us and a deep commitment to ecumenical relations. After moving to Norman, I found a home, and became deeply entrenched, in the inclusive liturgical community of St. John’s Episcopal Church. It was there that I developed a relationship with the Oakerhater Community. The Community is organized under the cannons of the Episcopal Diocese of Oklahoma and

Walking Trails St. Francis of the Woods is home to beautiful, moss covered, walking trials. Meandering though tall cedars and deciduous trees is like a scene from the Ozark Mountains; until, you will come to patches of tall grass that remind you you’re still in Oklahoma. What a blessing to have such a beautiful and diverse landscape, a beautiful work of art. Guests are always invited to find a moment of peace along the trails.

Scripture This is how we know love: Jesus laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. But if a person has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need and that person doesn’t care—how can the love of God remain in him? Little children, let’s not love with words or speech but with action and truth. - 1 John 3:16-18 (CEB)

named for St. David Pendelton Oakerhater, a Cheyenne warrior taken captive and held prisoner in Ft. Marion, Florida. He became a deacon in the Episcopal Church and returned to his people near Watonga, Oklahoma where he ministered to them, protecting their children from harsh government boarding schools by starting a local church school. He served his people until his death in 1931. Oakerhater Community members are spread out across Oklahoma, Texas, Kansas, and California, but we are drawn together by a deep commitment to ministries of reconciliation and a longing for community as a way to express our spirituality more fully. It was through the Oakerhater Community that I first learned of St. Francis of the Woods. Our Community was founded on these very grounds. I am so blessed! It seems that in so many ways G-d has been preparing me for this place for a long time. My faith and practice have been deeply influenced by my experience of theology and worship in many different churches, and I long for our full communion and cooperation. “We who are many are one body, because we all share one bread and one cup.” I hope that St. Francis of the Woods can be a center for ecumenical learning and action – empowering people to work together to improve their communities and the world. Peace be with you, + Brad, o.c. !2


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In Memory Our Brother, Father Christopher Contreras, fell asleep in the Lord on July 6, 2013. I had the privilege of meeting Father Chris. He offered me counsel in my call to ministry and he allowed me to serve with him at the altar during a Vespers service at St. Francis of the Woods. It was a very moving experience. Fr. Chris worked in several career fields including the US Army, as a recreational therapist, and as a Registered Nurse before answering the call to ordained ministry. He was ordained a priest on September 7, 2011, in the Holy Ukrainian National Orthodox Church in Exile by Archbishop Haralambos of West Palm Beach, Florida. Fr. Chris served as Director at St. Francis of the Woods since 2006. The following is a poem entitled “Breathless” written by Fr. Chris shortly before his death.

! some winsome night when you simply awaken taking no notice whether clock or phone slowly rise ’n dress ’n one’s most comfort able clothes cotton or silk or wool brushed or fine or woven walking carefully to the nearest door unlatch your mind ’n look ’n spired adoration above all… sadness ’n worry ’n doubt ’n simply be… baring witness gaze up ’n touch… the infinite shimmering lights cast within a love ’n free falling tear ’n untraceable sparkling trails that swiftly underscores Her most precious invitation sealed ’n sent o’ friend… sent by her… unseen messenger ’n waves o’ love ’n love ’nlove

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Spring 2014

Tim’s Tidings “So Much has been given to me, I have no time to ponder over that which has been denied.” - Helen Keller “Doing little thing, with a strong desire to please God make them really great.” - St. Francis de Sales Make yourself an honest man, and then you may be sure that there is one rascal less in the world.” - Carlyle “Anyone can build an altar, it requires a God to provide the flame. Anybody can build a house, we need the Lord to the creation of a home.” - John Henry Jowett One of the sanest, surest, and most generous joys of life comes from being happy over the good fortune of others. - Archibald Ruthledge Prayer is as necessary as the air, as the blood in our bodies, as anything to keep us alive - to keep us alive to the grace of God. - Mother Teresea

Grounds Report We have a beautiful (but short) amber waves of grain (wheat) that Katharine Lee Bates wrote about in America the Beautiful. Come see it before harvest in mid June. We also have plenty of hay for sale. If you are in need, please consider buying your hay from St. Francis of the Woods. You can also pick up some farm fresh eggs on your next visit! !3


Newsletter

Spring 2014

Just One Pound
 by Chase Smithburg

A cute girl of perhaps ten or twelve years saunters up. We had seen her from afar, weaving between tables, looking longingly at the beverages laid out on surface upon surface. With one hand outstretched, she was repeatedly told to move along by each chair’s inhabitant, receiving an empty supplication that God make her life easier from the gentler souls. In many ways, Egypt is an extremely classbased place. There are certain fault lines within society, lines not to be crossed depending on your economic status. In Cairo, the rich congregate in a couple regions inaccessible by the heavily subsidized metro system, making them a difficult destination for those without private vehicles or the economic means to afford a journey by taxi. More recently, complexes on the outside of the city have sprung up, allowing the upper class to more fully escape proximity to the masses, complexes built on the model of America’s suburbia. Alexandria is less divided in many ways. Still, private clubs dot the coast, open only to those with the prestige (and cash) to gain membership. Certain cafes and restaurants have cropped up over the years to cater to this class as well, although the layout of the city is such that the bulk of Egyptians frequenting these locales will interact with most elements of society as they go from place to place. In 2011, all sectors of Egyptian society came together to protest, to express their dissatisfaction with the status quo and their desire for the implementation of true freedom, of social justice, and for a dignified existence in Egypt. Or that’s how the story goes. While highly romanticized, those days by most accounts truly were filled with Egyptians of all stripes (Christian/Muslim, religious/nonreligious, rich/poor, liberal/conservative, urban/

rural) coming together as one: for their own benefit, yes, but also for the mutual benefit of their fellow citizens. That spirit vanished quickly as the realities of enacting deep, lasting change set in. Where that spirit remains is in the coffeehouses of Egypt. Those very cleavages that break Egyptian society into different folds all come together in these focal points where 2-pound ($0.30) tea is accessible to all but the poorest of Egyptians. This girl was, it seems, from that group. The beggars of Alexandria make a living in a number of ways. One strategy is to “sell” things - tissues being the most common good. They buy a large pack at a low price and wander the streets selling them individually at a higher price. The newest strategy is to sell national ID card replicas with the picture and personal information of Egypt’s de facto leader, Field Marshall And Al-Fattah Al-Sisi. Under the field “Occupation” these cards cleverly read “Savior of Egypt,” referring to his role in the overthrow of previous president Mohamed Morsi. (Where these people get the ID cards is anyone’s guess, although it wouldn’t be too farfetched to suspect that the military itself is behind their production. This girl, now approaching our seats, had a more pious tack. In her hand was a stack of mass-produced flyers filled with Quranic verses and Islamic prayers. “Please, just 1 pound,” she says. “Take one for a pound if you love the Prophet,” referring to Muhammad the Prophet of Islam. Making eye contact with the girl, my friend tells her that he is Christian. “That’s ok,” the girl says. A bit annoyed, my friend is about to reply that of course it is “ok” that he is Christian, the girl follows up her statement by calmly explaining: “Look. God tells us in our text that you have your religion, and we have ours. Right? At the end of the day, you are my !4


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brother, and I am your sister.” She tries to clear her dry throat, and my friend reflexively offers his cup of water. She gulps down the entire cup and continues: “We are all part of humankind. So that’s why I say ‘it’s ok.’” My friend turns to me a bit dumbfounded, never expecting such a response from a young girl wandering the streets, begging for pennies. He empties his pockets of all the change he has, but the girl tells him that she actually only wants 1 pound. “Please,” my friend tells her, “take it all. And keep spreading your message. Take it all because we are all part of humankind. Because you are my sister.” She thanks him and smiles deeply, walking off with her little stack of flyers. She comes by that coffeehouse from time to time, walking up to us proudly and giving us a high-five or a handshake, depending on the day. “How are you guys doing? Anyone giving

Plan Your Retreat

Spring 2014

you trouble?” I can’t help but smile thinking of this little girl somehow taking a protective, almost motherly approach toward me. Life here is hard for Egyptians. Every day is filled with new challenges, big and small. But even in the worst of days, the spirit of that girl remains, a spirit of blind love, hope, and kindness. And as long as that spirit remains, so too does the potential for change.

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Chase Smithburg is an American living in Alexandria, Egypt. In 2012, I had the opportunity to make pilgrimage with Chase. We traveled to several desert monasteries, including the Monastery founded by St. Anthony the Great, established in 356 A.D. We also venerated the relics of St. Mark the Evangelist in the Coptic Cathedral of St. Mark in Cairo Egypt and the relics of St. John Chrysostom, and St. Gregory the Theologian in the Patriarchal Church of St. George, Istanbul, Turkey.

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St. Francis of the Woods is a place where persons from every background are welcomed. From the very beginning, sincere seekers upon any of the countless spiritual paths have been invited to share the grounds and facilities for worship, study, rest, work, and to be of service to one another, to God, and to the Center.

Calendar

We have three cabins that sleep up to four people and two lodges that sleep up to 10. Both are equipped with kitchens and amenities for overnight stays. The Learning Center, has large meeting spaces and a kitchen where meals can be prepared and served. The Cimarron Heights Library houses a large collection of many old and rare theological books. And all are welcome for prayer in the St. Francis Chapel. We invite you to join us any time you are able.

Wednesdays: Potluck lunch 12:00 in the Learning Center.

St. Francis of the Woods is also working on scheduling topical weekend retreats. If you have ideas about retreats you’d like to see at St. Francis of the Woods, we’d love to hear from you. Just email or write to us with “Retreat Idea” in the subject line. If you, your church, or organization are interested in planning a retreat, please contact us by phone or email to get more information or to reserve a time and space at the Retreat Center.


Monday - Friday: Morning Prayer 8:00, Noonday Prayer 12:00, Evening Prayer 8:00.

Sundays: Worship 10:30 a.m. followed by a potluck lunch in the Learning Center. Saturday June 14, June 28, July 12, July 26: Video Discussion Group 7:00 p.m. in the Learning Center.

! Have an activity that would be right for St. Francis of the Wood? Let us know!

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St. Francis of the Woods P.O. Box 400 Coyle, OK 73027

Spring 2014

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NOT FOR PROFIT ORG US POSTAGE PAID COYLE, OK PERMIT NO. 4

St. Francis of the Woods

Spiritual Renewal Center

St. Francis of the Woods is a place where persons from every background are welcomed. The chapel and the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom signify our roots with earliest Christian traditions and the Center is named for Francis of Assisi, the most universal figure in Christian tradition other than Jesus Christ. Sincere seekers upon any of the countless spiritual paths are to share the grounds and facilities for worship, study, rest, work, and to be of service to one another, to God, and the Center. It is our hope that you will find St. Francis of the Woods to be a place that honors St. Francis's memory and ministry. Please join us in our experience of God in creation or in the ancient worship of the Church.

To reserve a cottage or lodge please call or email 405.466.3774 //stfrancisofthewoods@icloud.com find us on a map us at: 11414 W Hwy. 33, Coyle, OK 73027

/stfrancisofthewoods

@stfrancisofthewoods

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